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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Safari for You

All people should at least once in their lives go on an African safari. It’s an opportunity to disconnect from civilization and reconnect with one’s untamed side. It’s an opportunity to be inspired by the stunning landscape of the African savannah and to witness rare plants and animals in their native habitats. It’s a common misconception that only the rich can afford to go on an African safari, but with little forethought, there’s no reason why this once-in-a-lifetime adventure should cost any more than any other kind of overseas travel.

Think About Your Travel Companions

One of the most important parts of arranging a safari vacation is thinking about why you’re going, who you’re bringing, and how you can make sure everyone has a memorable time. Itineraries can range from short weekend trips to extensive tours of many countries, and each will appeal to a particular set of travellers.

Imagine the perfect honeymoon: you and your new spouse are sitting side by side on the deck of your luxury tented camp, taking in the sights and sounds of the African bush. Picture instead a movable tented camp hidden in the African wilderness, where the adventurous traveller may find all sorts of exciting experiences.

Senior citizens who travel should take it easy and go at their own speed so they may enjoy everything. A well-planned safari takes into account not just the traveller’s desired pace but also the amount of time spent at each location.

Travellers visiting East Africa might choose to explore the region’s enormous landscapes or focus instead on experiencing the local culture and cuisine. When planning a safari with your family, you should give some extra attention to factors like malaria-free areas and shorter journey periods.

Think Carefully About Your Final Stop

Step one in planning a budget-friendly safari in Africa is deciding on a location that fits your needs. Kenya and Tanzania, two of East Africa’s most popular safari destinations, have earned a reputation for their expensive prices because of the prevalence of high-end safari lodges and entrance fees. The extreme isolation of Botswana and Zambia’s most renowned parks also presents challenges. For example, getting to the Okavango Delta requires a charter jet, which will raise your budget.

The most cost-effective places to go on safari are those that are easy to get to, have several options for game reserves and tour operators, and use the local currency rather than the US dollar. Both South Africa and Namibia provide excellent facilities for self-drive safaris, camping safaris, and overland excursions, making them ideal for the budget traveller. Thanks to cheap lodging, food, and transportation, Zimbabwe is another great choice. Think about things like park fees, game drives, and the expense of travelling to the greatest reserves while making your decision.

Visa- and vaccination-free travel destinations are also great for keeping costs down.

Use a Local Operator

Local tour operators, safari firms, and lodging alternatives almost universally undercut their foreign counterparts on price. If you have your heart set on visiting the Serengeti or the Maasai Mara in East Africa, but are worried about the high price tag, going with a local operator can be a terrific way to save money. Aside from saving money, reserving locally has other benefits, such as a higher likelihood of last-minute availability (which is ideal if you meet other travellers along the way and decide to go on a whim to the Caprivi or make a brief diversion to Kruger National Park). The difficulty of making reservations in advance stems from the fact that many businesses can’t be reached until after visitors arrive.

Determine the Length of Time You Have for Your Safari

Most people only have a limited amount of time to travel, thus your safari’s location, activity type, and schedule will likely be determined by how long you have at your destination. You may find what you’re seeking for by limiting your exploration of the wilderness to a single country, national park, or reserve and staying at no more than two lodges or camps.

Combining different getaways is a great way to see more of the world, see more animals, and experience more cultural diversity. Your time on safari may need to be shortened if you choose to visit a city or the beach in addition to the African wilderness.

Knowing how long it will take to go to East or Southern Africa and what will be involved once you get there is crucial for planning any trip. You may break up your trip to Africa by making stops in Europe or North Africa, and once you get there, you can tailor your safari experience by choosing lodging that is close to major attractions like museums and national parks.

While in other places of Africa you may be enjoying a sundowner after a few hours of driving, getting to other parks and reserves requires minor flights or lodge hopping. How many days are sufficient depends on how much time you need in between activities.

Experience a Group Safari

Minibus tours catered to retirees and social backpacker trips with well-known overland firms like Nomad Africa Adventure Tours are just two examples of the many types of group safaris available. There are two reasons why group safaris are so appealing. First, they save money compared to private trips by allowing you to share lodging and transportation costs and by providing access to discounted group pricing for things like park entrance fees and tour guides. Second, they’re a great opportunity to connect with like-minded travellers and form lasting bonds. However, some people may feel constrained by a group tour’s set schedule, and the social side can become problematic if you and your travelling companions don’t click.

Choose to Go on a Self-Driving Safari

Renting a car and driving yourself to and around your preferred game reserves is an option for those who want greater autonomy on their safari. The benefits are numerous, including the flexibility to alter your schedule as often as you wish to better suit your preferences. When you want to snap photographs, where you want to go, and where you want to sleep for the night are all up to you within the reserve. Numerous rent-a-car packages have a rooftop tent, reducing the need for expensive hotel stays. The lack of a seasoned native guide is one of the few negatives. South Africa and Namibia are excellent options since they have several safari parks that are open to self-drive cars and have well-maintained roads.

Compromise on Accommodation 

The expense of a safari may be greatly reduced by making sacrifices in the quality of the accommodations. From full-service campgrounds with waterholes, restaurants, and power to wilderness sites with little more than a cleared spot to pitch your tent, you can go camping in style in most Southern African national parks. These are not high-end, but they are quite reasonably priced. The allure of sleeping under the stars in the African wilderness is also available at these lodges. Sesriem Camp, in Namibia’s Sossusvlei dune sea, is one of the most sought-after destinations, but it books up months in advance.

Stay away from the posh lodges found deep inside the reserves if you want the security of a roof and four walls. Find a cheap hotel close to the park entrance and plan day visits to the preserve. The biggest negative is that you won’t be able to go on any nighttime or pre-dawn game drives.

Travel During the Low Season

Safari excursions and hotel rates in Africa typically drop significantly during the wet season, the low season. However, the low rates during this season aren’t the only reason to plan a trip. Many of Africa’s well-known herbivores have their young during the rainy season, and birdwatching is also at its peak at this time of year. Due to the abundance of food and water, wildlife tends to scatter, making them more difficult to notice, especially in densely wooded regions. During the rainy season, it might be difficult to travel due to flooded roads and the closure of several lodges and camps.

Pay Attention to One Game Reserve

Travellers who want to experience as much of Africa’s diverse landscapes and animals as possible often split their time between numerous game reserves. Saving money on domestic flights, vehicle rental, or transfers is easy when you choose to visit only one park and stay there for your whole trip. Choose wisely depending on your personal preferences. The Serengeti and the Maasai Mara are the best places to go if seeing the Great Migration is a top goal. Visit a large reserve like Kruger or Hwange National Park if seeing the “Big Five” is a priority.

Pick Your Own Adventure, Relaxation, or a Mix of Both!

If you know what you want out of your trip and where you’re going, you’ll be less likely to waste time on things that won’t provide you the return on investment you’re hoping for.

It is true that the wildlife encounters and forms of safari adventures are of utmost importance when arranging a safari, therefore it is also crucial to pay close attention to creating a fulfilling game-filled adventure by putting together the ideal action plan, preferred lodging, and activities for your stay in Africa. Some vacationers want more out of their trip, so they add activities like bungee jumping at Victoria Falls or climbing Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Others who travel to Africa may be more interested in the striking differences they encounter. Taking a multi-day safari through a region where grassland and woodland, delta channels and rocky outcrops, and everything in between is guaranteed to whet most people’s appetites, and then spending some time in a concrete jungle with waterfronts and Winelands is the icing on the cake.

A safari may only make up a minor portion of the experience for tourists who would rather spend most of their time lounging on a sandy white beach on one of the islands in the Indian Ocean. If you can find the sweet spot between the two, your safari experience will be one you won’t soon forget.

Make a thorough strategy, but don’t overthink it!

Ultimately, all you need to pull off a budget safari is some time and effort spent planning and researching your alternatives, figuring out what’s most important to you, and then acting on that information. If money is tight, don’t let that stop you from having the time of your life. Some people are fortunate enough to be able to better their financial situation and save for a more expensive vacation the following time around, but most people miss the opportunity entirely because they wait too long.

Nature has remained unchanged. You may view the same beautiful landscapes whether you want to camp out in a public area or stay in a resort with a swimming pool. The best aspect is that you may go on a safari and have an unforgettable time without spending all your money. Fortunately, you may always visit again. You may take a cheap safari now, and then upgrade to a more expensive one and stay for longer the next time you go, likely bringing your whole family with you.

Finally, while competitive pricing is obviously desirable, it must not come at the expense of long-term viability. Don’t back businesses that operate illegally. It’s likely that they don’t pay taxes, making them incredibly affordable. Pay attention to how they conduct business, particularly at the lodgings you will use, and if you notice anything that may be improved upon, let them know.

Frequently Asked Questions


1. Can you tell me about the ideal safari?

A game drive provides the best vantage point for seeing Africa’s breathtaking scenery, and it’s also the most common safari activity.

2. What makes a good safari?

The best safaris take their time and allow for more in-depth explorations and discoveries. In most cases, personalised, individualised safaris are the best option. There will be no organised tours or preplanned itineraries. Good safaris, and especially first safaris, should be very significant milestones in one’s life.

3. Is safari better than Zoo?

Safari parks are still essentially zoos, albeit ones that may provide slightly larger cages for the animals. They continue to hold animals hostage despite their protests. Animals are still traded with other zoos. Animals are still being kept in cages, contrary to popular belief.

4. What safari offers the most variety of animals?

Many safari animals, including lions, may be found in Tanzania in greater numbers than everywhere else on the African continent. Approximately two million wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle make their way through Tanzania’s Serengeti habitat during the fabled Great Migration.

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